Alliance forms for e-gov industry standards

The electronic government industry is still so young that it has not formed

industrywide standards, but a provider of electronic government services

has announced an alliance to establish a code of e-gov conduct.

E-government service provider govWorks Inc. has partnered with Arthur

Andersen and American Management Systems Inc. to provide a "vision for best

practices" for the e-government industry in order to ensure public trust

and encourage fair business practices. The company hopes others follow.

"We've concluded that because this is a new field there isn't the kind

of attention in the research community and capital markets — in an organized

way — to effectively ensure confidence in buyers and users in the system,"

said Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, chairman and chief executive officer of govWorks.

Isaza Tusman said some companies exaggerate their services and experience.

Other issues related to the use of privacy statements and disclosing whether

information is sold to third parties, revealing "convenience" fees often

charged to pay for World Wide Web portals, and misleading company subsidies

or branches that compete against each other for bids.

The alliance's code of conduct has five main points:

* Adopt strict consumer privacy policies that prohibit the improper

use and resale of consumer data to third parties.

* Disclose all fees and other costs associated with e-government services.

* Accurately represent the number and scope of e-government products

and services offered.

* Accurately represent corporate structures and affiliate relationships

that may affect selection of vendors.

* Help bridge the digital divide and ensure universal access.

Isaza Tuzman said he hopes the alliance will help open a discussion

among companies and the government about these issues so that the business

will not be regulated.

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